Riverside, St. Charles secure spots in state softball tournament

Published 12:03 am Saturday, April 22, 2017

LAPLACE — There were tears on the local softball fields this week, but this time they were the happy kind.

After suffering devastating losses that caused them to miss last year’s State Softball Tournament, the Riverside Academy and St. Charles Catholic softball teams have booked their trips for this year’s championship event.

St. Charles Catholic (24-3), the No. 4 seed in the Division III select schools bracket, will play No. 5 Archbishop Hannan (23-7) at noon in the quarterfinals April 28 at Frasch Park in Sulphur.

The Lady Comets earned their spot by defeating No. 13 seed Thomas Jefferson, 11-3, in a first-round game Wednesday.

Riverside Academy (21-7), the No. 2 seed in the Division II select schools bracket, will play the Teurlings Cathlolic/Cabrini winner at 2:30 p.m. April 28 at Frasch Park.

The Lady Rebels defeated No. 15 Ben Franklin 16-0  Thursday to clinch its spot in the quarterfinals.

The winners will advance to the semifinals to be played April 29 in Sulphur.

Those winners advance to the championship games to be played later that day.

While St. John the Baptist Parish softball fans can celebrate the return of the local teams, they will not be rewarded with an all-parish matchup next weekend.

Riverside and St. Charles are competing for separate state titles under the LHSAA’s new playoff scheme for public and private schools.

This is the first year of the LHSAA’s split playoffs, with the public and private schools vying for separate championships.

In all, 12 state champions will be crowned on Frasch Park fields.

This also was the first year the teams needed just one victory to secure their trips west because only 16 teams are in the brackets.

Previous years required two victories to get to the tournament and two more to get to the championship.

Those changes did not remove any of the excitement for the Lady Comets, who revived their tradition of having the senior players run the bases after Wednesday’s win.

They then posed for a photo in which all the players pointed towards Sulphur.

Someone later tagged the photo on social media: “We’re going back home.”

“Us not going last year, they were hungry,” Comets coach Ty Monica said. “I just hope we go there and we put a good showing on. The girls have been there before. They know what’s expected of them. They’ve got to play.”

The Comets did that Wednesday, although it took them a few innings to really get going. They scored two runs in the third inning, three in the fourth and six in the sixth, right after Thomas Jefferson cut St. Charles’ lead from 5-0 to 5-3.

Starting pitcher Jade Brady, who gave up no hits until the fourth and struck out five, gave way to Kelsie Williams in the sixth. She got the Comets out of a jam in the sixth and retired the side in order in the seventh.

“We have a one and we have a one-A,” Monica said of his two pitchers.

The Comets bats then responded to Thomas Jefferson’s little rally — as is their motto this year — by pounding six hits in the sixth inning.

That included an RBI double by Grace Mohon, a 2-run triple by Caroline Julian and a 2-run home run by Jori Bryant.

They did all that with two outs.

“I don’t know if there was a more fitting slogan for our season than what just happened,” Monica said.

Bryant got it started with her seventh home run of the season.

“I had been in a slump,” she said.

“So I was trying to pick it up. I felt good and we just kept the momentum going. It’s a big difference from last year.”

The Comets will be chasing their third state championship. They won in 1998 and 2008 and were runners-up in 2005 and 2010.

Monica said they have no easy path next week.

The Comets faced Hannan in early March and dropped a 10-9 decision.

“I’ll say this, whoever ends up playing for the state championship on Saturday, whatever two teams end up playing, the next step is going to be the SEC,” Monica said.

“There’s six or seven legit teams that not only can compete in this division, but they could compete for that championship as well. This division is that balanced.”

Riverside 16

Ben Franklin 0

Riverside Academy coach Tamara Regalo said her team didn’t care how many games it had to play.

It was Thursday’s that counted.

“We have one shot,” she said before her team took a 16-0 win over Ben Franklin in Reserve.

The Lady Rebels made quick work of the visiting Falcons, scoring 11 runs in the first inning.

Regalo elected to use three pitchers and would have used a fourth if the game had not ended after three innings under the mercy rule.

Freshman Lexi Johnson started and was followed by Madison Watson and Maegan Hymel.

They allowed no hits. One Falcon batter was hit by a pitch and another reached on an error.

At the plate the Lady Rebels needed only seven hits to put away the Falcons, thanks to several base-on-balls.

After leading the nation in home runs last season with 44, the Rebels are currently second (according to MaxPreps).

They evened their total to 50 Thursday.

Toni Perrin hit her 10th home run. Johnson hit her 15th.

The important thing for the Lady Rebels was getting to Sulphur.

Last year they were upset in the regionals by Doyle.

Regalo said there still were tears on her field Thursday afternoon.

“It was very bittersweet for them,” she said.

“It was their last home game. They’ve put a lot of hard work and effort out there on that field.”

After the game, parents and fans were exchanging information on hotel accommodations and travel plans for Sulphur, she said.

The Lady Rebels won the title in 2002 and were runners-up to SCC in 1998.